We built Wavechat to allow everyone to make easy micro-podcasts for Stories. How did we get here?

The Team

@Dennis is a full-stack engineer and CTO. @Dave is a product person and CEO. Dave was employee 180 at Facebook, and was there through 2017. Dennis is a serial entrepreneur who built his first product at 15.

How we met

In the summer of 2018, we were both working in the offices of Combine.vc. Dennis was working at @tokendaily, while Dave was trying to figure out what he wanted to do next. We wound up sitting next to each other, and bonded over our love of music, tech, soccer, and crypto.

Pretty soon, Dennis was giving Dave feedback on his ideas about building tech in the audio space, and we started hacking together on the weekends.

Later that fall, Token Daily was pivoting its product, and Dennis decided he wanted to look for something new. Dave was ready to build something new as well, and Wavechat was born!

Deciding on an idea

Dave and Dennis are tech veterans — we’ve built dozens of products over the last decade+. We knew the importance of building, as opposed to simply talking about an idea.

We used three main points to decide on an idea:

  • Is the idea something we have familiarity with? Sure, you can do something completely out of your comfort zone — (We’d love to work on Quantum Computing!) but the lead time to actually building something is much, much longer.
  • Is the market viable? An idea can be interesting and you can have deep familiarity with it, but if the number of people in the world willing to “pay” for the what you build isn’t big enough, it’s not a viable business.

Launching Wavecut.io

We launched Wavecut.io, a social network for people sharing short audio clips, on February 14, 2019. (Happy Valentine’s Day!) Our target market was people interested in music, who generally had short audio clips on their computers. We eventually hoped to expand to other segments, but started out in a space we both knew.

Shutting down Wavecut.io

While we had some organic usage of Wavecut.io — one person even wrote us a personalized email telling us how much she loved the idea! — we discovered two main flaws in our thinking:

  1. The number of people who do have audio on their hard drives to share is a much smaller audience than people willing to use their voice to share. While it’s a strong community, it would be too hard to generate a coherent fabric of connection that would spark network effects.

Pivoting to the Wavecut app

Our solution to the above two issues: Build an app! (And make it fun 🤪)

Our app MVP, Wavecut.
  1. Giving people a utility they already use and want (voice recording and creative expression tools) in a cleaner, faster package than incumbents.

Building the Wavecut app

We could write a whole series of blog posts on the actual building of the app, and all the decisions made, but we’ll try to keep it a bit higher level and not get too in to the weeds. We’ll highlight some key decisions below, but rest assured these were less than 1% of the decisions we had to work through.

  1. Saving as a video, and not as an audio file. This one was really tough. Were we “violating” our thesis that people wanted and needed voice/audio content if Wavecuts have a visual component? Ultimately, we decided no. A few reasons for this:
  2. Practicality. Sometimes, you’re forced to do something by outside forces, and that’s ok. You cannot share audio files on Snap, IG, FB, etc. right now.
  3. Fluidity. Our vision has always been for voice and audio to complement current means of creation, not replace it. Human expression exists on a spectrum, and so do Wavechats 😉

Deciding to build Wavechat

We saw solid engagement with our simple MVP, Wavecut, but the majority of people who downloaded the app used it only once every few days.

Based on the deep (but infrequent) engagement we saw, we knew we had an opportunity to create an app that had real stickiness, one that people would come back to over an over. To really create something that people would use every day, we decided we needed to build something social.

  1. Why Social Voice? Every medium has been disrupted by social — Twitter for text, IG for photos, and Youtube for video — but Voice hasn’t (yet!)
  2. Why now? If it was gonna happen, wouldn’t it have happened already? Our hypothesis is that the hardware to disrupt Voice simply wasn’t mainstream — until now. With an Airpod in every ear, and an Alexa in every room, we’re excited about the future of Voice 😄
AIRPODS ERRWHERE

Building Wavechat

While the core of Wavechat remained the same as Wavecut, we knew there were a few key features we needed to add.

Wavechat!
  1. Direct Messaging. The majority of communication both offline and online is meant to be private (or at least semi-private.) Without this backbone of communication, our app would be incomplete.
  2. Stories. When you create content, sometimes you want to share privately, and sometimes you want to distribute to a wider audience. We agree with Eugene Wei that “the Stories format is a genuine innovation on the social modesty problem of social networks. Given the majority of adoption of new social spaces is from young people, we decided to build Stories over “Permanent” posts like on Instagram or Facebook.

What’s Next

We launched Wavechat for iOS on Thursday, November 21 2019. The classic problem for networks is the “Cold-Start” issue, where no one wants to join because no one has joined. Our approach to establish a deeply engaged network of users is:

  1. Be agnostic to the solution, but committed to providing value. We’re still early in our journey, and are aware our “solution” to providing value as a product might (probably will 😂) change a lot between now and Product-Market fit. That’s ok, and we’re excited for the journey!

The Future

What happens if Wavechat is incredibly successful, and we build the future we want?

We have some thoughts on what this might look like a few years from now, but no promises 😛

Help more creators create, and enable more connection through Voice.

Podcasts in their current format are SO 2019. Just as the format of videos has completely changed from TV>Youtube, we believe so will voice from Radio>Voice Social. We’re not sure exactly what it will look like, but expect it to be wildly different than anything that exists today!

Creating the sonic infrastructure and platform for AR/VR.

VR:

Sonic Emojis.

Emojis are an internet native common transcendent pictographic language. If you send someone a smiley face after “See ya there” they get a deeper understanding of the emotional insinuation of your text.

Thank you!

If you liked this article, download Wavechat on the App Store, upvote us on Product Hunt, or follow us on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. 😎

CEO @ Wavecut

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